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Shanks Pony

I’ve been doing a lot of walking since Joseph was born. While he was still in NICU, I would duck out for an hour or so daily and hoof around the Volker neighborhood to get fresh air, to keep my head about me, and to work off the hideous cankles that fluid retention had bestowed upon me.

Once Joseph was home and settled, we discovered that taking him for a short walk around the block or so was a surefire way to settle him down when he was fractious.

As he got big enough to safely carry in the Moby Wrap, our walks got longer. I could kill two birds with one stone and take Joseph out for his airing and Ruby out to walk off some of the naughties. She likes to run much better than she likes to walk, but she’ll take any sort of outing she can get. Walking is actually excellent manners training for her because she’s not allowed to go balls-out and just burn off her yayas. She has to use her little dog brain and be a co-operative member of the pack, and while it doesn’t physically wear her out like a good run will, it does give her a needed mental work out.

Whenever I’m out with Ruby on her leash and Joseph bunjied to me, we occasion little interest. Just a woman out walking her dog. Sometimes dog-lovers comment on how pretty Ruby is, because she is. And Joseph is like catnip for little old ladies. It’s the chubby pink cheeks and bright blue eyes. By no fault of his own, he really does look like a cherub on an old-fashioned Valentine card. So people talk to us as we’re out and about, but it’s basically just passing greetings.

However, when I’m out with Joseph alone, when we’re running errands, that’s when we seem to attract attention. Nobody walks in this city if they don’t have to. Running errands on foot is just not done. It is not part of the culture. So, when people see a woman with a baby, on foot, they seem to think that I’m somewhat stranded and stop to offer me a ride. Almost every time I’m out with Joseph and without Ruby, we get offered a lift. It is sweet that there are so many people out there prepared to be helpful and kind, but it’s also a bit of a bummer to know that so many people cannot wrap their heads around the notion of walking, not because you have to but because you like to.

I dress us appropriately for the weather, I bring along the diaper bag which would do a Scout proud for the levels of preparedness it provides. I keep the errands relatively short and usually lightweight. I’m strong and fit, and young Joseph is healthy and growing. We are in good order to be out and stepping.

Now it’s true that I’m very much looking forward to when Joseph is old enough to start riding in the Burley trailer. I love bicycling and I look forward to expanding our geographic range. I hope that one day Joseph enjoys riding bikes himself. But I also thoroughly enjoy the contemplative act of walking. I’m not a meditator, as I’ve surely mentioned before. It simply isn’t in me. But in other physical activities like mountain biking or indeed walking, I can get as close as I ever will. I get lost in the rhythm of my strides, enjoying the feeling of swinging along, getting the most efficiency out of the momentum of each step.

During the year I spent in England, I didn’t have a bicycle at my disposal, and I had places to go and things to do. So obviously, I walked. I walked a lot. Wore the heels off my boots and had to have them repaired. And it was while I was living in York that I discovered how much I enjoyed walking. I became extremely skillful in the art of crowd navigation, spotting gaps in the hordes of tourists and zipping through the meandering foot traffic with maximum efficiency. I’d go hoofing around town in my free time, sightseeing, stretching my legs, sloughing off the stress of grad school.

I do the same now, with Joseph, soothing him with the rhythm of my forced-march pace, discovering every street and alley of our neighborhood and environs. It’s refreshing, cathartic, therapeutic, and I credit walking (along with breastfeeding) for my timely return to my pre-pregnancy jeans size.

One Response to “Shanks Pony”

  1. Julie says:

    Amen and bravo! I am in a much better mood when I walk to work vs driving and am working up to doing it more than once a week. I would like to be able to walk our dog on a leash and would love to pick your brain for tips and suggestions.

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